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Blue Jackets nip Red Wings in key wild card battle

Mar 26, 2014 - 4:37 AM Columbus, OH ( - Cam Atkinson scored the winning goal in the third period to lift the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.

Ryan Johansen had two goals, while Brandon Dubinsky notched a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets, who now sit in the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 80 points.

Sergei Bobrovsky started in net for Columbus, but left after one period due to illness. He stopped 9-of-10 shots while his replacement, Curtis McElhinney, made 22 saves.

"He was great, coming in a tough situation in a huge game," said Columbus head coach Todd Richards about McElhinney. "They pushed - you have to give Detroit a lot of credit for how they played. They had some opportunities and Curtis made some huge saves for us, and he looked calm. In a big, high-pressured game, he looked very calm."

Gustav Nyquist had both goals for the Red Wings, who have dropped their past two. Jimmy Howard made 24 stops on 27 shots.

Detroit holds the other wild card spot with 80 points. Washington and Toronto, both of which lost on Tuesday, also have 80 points but have played more games.

Columbus took a 3-2 lead at 6:58 of the third period as the team skated the other way on a 2-on-1 and Matt Calvert let fly with a shot from the right wing that Howard stopped, but Atkinson was there to knock in the rebound.

The net was dislodged by Atkinson before the puck crossed the line, but Brendan Smith had pushed Atkinson into the net and the refs ruled it a good goal.

"They knocked the net off and they still score," Howard said. "I guess it's something to remember in the back of our minds, you knock the net off it, just throw (the puck) in there. It should count."

Detroit got a power play later in the frame, but Columbus killed it off.

The Red Wings pulled Howard for an extra attacker with under two minutes to play, but were unable to net the tying goal and Johansen scored in the final seconds to seal the win.

Columbus scored just 1:35 into the game on the power play when Johansen banged the puck into the net with several bodies in front.

The Blue Jackets struck again on the power play at 12:46 of the first as a 4- on-3 advantage saw Dubinsky throw the puck from the right side where it went in off the foot of Danny DeKeyser and into the net.

Detroit, though, got one back two minutes later as Nyquist netted his first of the game on a rebound from the left side.

The Red Wings scored the only goal of the second period to tie the game on a 2-on-1 break as Tomas Tatar threw a shot on net from the left wing and the rebound went in off of the skate of Nyquist.

Game Notes

Columbus was 2-for-4 on the power play while Detroit failed on its two chances ... Detroit hosts Montreal on Thursday ... Columbus hosts Pittsburgh on Friday ... Columbus took two of the three games against Detroit this season.